Sunday, June 11, 2017

Details on Sunday's Possible Derecho - Tracking a Sticky, Thundery Week

.36" rain fell at St. Cloud on Sunday.

1.82" rain fell yesterday in the Twin Cities.
69 mph peak wind gust from yesterday's severe storms (MSP International Airport). 48 mph peak  gust at St. Cloud.

73 F. maximum temperature in St. Cloud yesterday.
76 F. average high on June 11.
89 F. high on June 11, 2016.

June 12, 1917: The ice pack finally breaks up on Lake Superior near Duluth, one of the latest ever 'ice out' dates on record.

Cleaning Up From Sunday's Fast-Moving Derecho

How will warming impact Minnesota? More flooding events. Flooding in places that rarely see flooding - more "drainage floods" as opposed to rivers overflowing their banks.

Check your homeowners policy - damage from flooding probably isn't included. I see no strong scientific evidence the warming well underway is sparking more tornadoes or hail, at least not yet. Higher dew points in summer; we're seeing a longer growing season and more erratic winter snows, but data linking high winds/big hail with a warmer, wetter atmosphere is inconclusive at this time.

Tell that to residents of Coon Rapids, where they had to call out the snow plows! Sunday's squall line probably fit the definition of a rare "derecho", with wind damage along a 250-mile swath or longer.

After refreshing 60s yesterday we should see 80s today with a slight risk of thunder. Storms become more numerous Tuesday as another hot front pushes the mercury up to 90F. Wednesday's storms mark the leading edge of cooler, drier air. By Sunday temperatures may hold in the upper 70s.

Enjoy any free A/C. I'm starting to suspect July will wind up stinking hot.

Photos from yesterday's severe thunderstorm outbreak:

Bow Echo. Whenever you see a line of thunderstorms "bowing out", the configuration roughly resembling a horseshoe, it's a good indicator that severe straight-line winds are a part of this storm complex. Such was the case Sunday morning, with wind gusts to 70 mph and 2-3" diameter hail. Some communities were hit harder than others (which is always the case) - a reminder that June has a reputation for the most severe weather of any month.

"A Nasty Storm". The Star Tribune has more details on Sunday's severe weather episode across Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Was Yesterday's Squall Line a "Derecho"? I believe the answer is yes, but I have yet to see the National Weather Service confirm this. A derecho is a long-last, long-track severe weather episode with straight-line wind damage for at least 250 miles.I believe we met that criteria yesterday with wind damage from eastern South Dakota into Wisconsin and Michigan. For a list of severe weather reports click here, courtesy of NOAA.

NOAA SPC has a complete list of Minnesota and Wisconsin hail and wind damage reports here.

Derecho Climatology, Part 1. Here is a map of some of America's most  severe derechos. They are most likely to develop over the Plains and Midwest, but especially extreme derechos can survive the trip to the east coast of the USA. These systems thrive on severe instability and moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, both in short supply from the Rockies to the west coast, where you may stand a better chance of spotting Elvis than a full-blown derecho.

Derecho Climatology, Part 2. On average central Minnesota experiences roughly 1 derecho every year. That's the story fro Dallas and Oklahoma City to St. Louis, Chicago, Louisville and Detroit. The climatological bulls-eye for derecho formation is roughly Tulsa to Bentonville to Joplin, based on SPC data.

Monday Severe Risk. The greatest potential for damaging hail and winds shifts west today, into the Black Hills of South Dakota and eastern Wyoming, including Sheridan and Cheyenne.

Excessive Rainfall Potential. NOAA models are zeroing in on Boise, Bozeman, Rapid City and Pierre, and Waterloo to La Crosse for the best chance of a few inches of rain falling in a short period of time, conditions capable of supporting flash flooding. Map: NOAA.

Strongest T-storms Sprout Over Northern Tier States. Generally light to moderate showers spread into the Gulf Coast; the greatest potential for storms capable of hail and damaging winds (including isolated tornadoes) from Montana to Wyoming and the Dakotas into the Midwest by Tuesday. The east coast heats up; within a few days residents east of the Appalachians may be praying for a cooling shower. 84-hour NAM guidance: NOAA and

Gradual Cooling Trend. Dew points reach the sticky 60s into Wednesday before a west breeze pushes tropical air out of Minnesota later this week. Temperatures may top 90F Tuesday if the sun is out for a few hours, but we'll all be enjoying cooler, drier air by late week and next weekend. Twin Cities ECMWF numbers: WeatherBell.

Wednesday Heat Index. Much of American will be sweltering away this week, potentially dangerous heat indices (100-105F) from San Antonio and Tulsa to Peoria and Richmond. Washington D.C., a city of southern efficiency and northern charm, will push 100F by midweek. Only the northern Rockies and Pacific Northwest will escape the heat.

Heat-Related Ailments. Dry skin, rapid breathing and pulse, along with slurred speech and disorientation are all symptoms of heat stroke, which can prove fatal if not treated quickly and effectively. If in doubt, call 9-1-1.

Dress for Hot Weather Success. Although survival is probably a good place to start. Thanks to HealthTalkUMN at the University of Minnesota.

Heat Wave Expands Westward by Late June? Confidence levels are low (because the 2 week GFS forecast has been all over the map - literally) but the latest run tries to build a hot ridge o f high pressure over the southwestern USA, Rockies and Plains; only the Pacific Northwest and New England escaping sizzling heat. Place your bets.

How To Keep Tabs on Atlantic Hurricanes. The Economist reports on a new constellation of low-orbiting satellites which may provide the raw data necessary to do a better job accurately predicting hurricane intensity (much harder to do than predict track). Here's an excerpt: "...Advances in automated sensors, both those that fly and those that swim, are making it possible to gather more data from both of these places. This season, for example, will be the first in which a constellation of microsatellites called CYGNSS (Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System) watches storms as they roll in towards the east coast. The eight-satellite swarm, which was launched in December, listens for radio signals that come from GPS satellites directly above it in space, and for the same signals when they have been reflected from the ocean’s surface beneath the hurricane being studied. Differences between the reflected signal and the original are a consequence of the state of that surface, and CYGNSS can use them to infer wind conditions there..."

Tropical Storm Arthur file image: International Space Station and NASA.

An Entire Town in the US is Sinking Because of Climate Change. It's actually due to a combination of land subsidence and rising seas, as explained at Futurism: "Isle de Jean Charles, a small island in southeastern Louisiana’s bayous, is drowning as the Gulf of Mexico rises. Twenty-nine homes remain, housing 100 people, but they are all being relocated because the flooding is unstoppable. The island has already lost 98% of its land since 1955, making it one of the most visible victims of climate change — so far. The residents can either leave their homes or die in them, and they are leaving. “Now there’s just a little strip of land left,” resident Rita Falgout tells Quartz. “That’s all we have. There’s water all around us. I’m anxious to go...”

The Real Story Behind Elon Musk's $2.6 Billion Aquisition of Solar City, and What It Means for Tesla's Future - Not To Mention the Planet's. The longest headline on record? But more interesting background on what motivates Elon Musk, courtesy of Fast Company: "...These roof tiles are the latest component of Musk’s larger plan to wean us off fossil fuels. Inside the garage of each of these homes, he points out, is a Tesla vehicle and next-generation Powerwall, the sleek rechargeable battery Tesla developed in 2015 to store energy for household use. During the day, the solar shingles can generate electricity and recharge the Powerwall. After the sun goes down, the battery takes over, providing power independent of the traditional utility grid. “This is the integrated future. You’ve got an electric car, a Powerwall, and a Solar Roof. It’s pretty straightforward, really,” he says with a big shrug and a smile. “[This] can solve the whole energy equation.” Musk’s announcement is about saving the planet. But it’s also about saving SolarCity, the company his cousins, Peter and Lyndon Rive—who are in the audience—launched with Musk’s support in 2006 to bring solar power to the masses..."

9.8 Million People Employed by Renewable Energy, According to New Report. Roughly 3 million of those jobs are in the USA. Here's a clip from "Nearly 10 million people were employed in the renewable energy sector last year, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) said on Wednesday. IRENA's report, Renewable Energy and Jobs – Annual Review 2017, states that global renewable energy employment in 2016, excluding large hydropower, hit 8.3 million. If direct employment in large hydropower is included, that figure climbs to 9.8 million..."

File image: GreenTech Media.

We're Not in a Civil War, But We Are Drifting Toward Divorce. The urge to "self-segregate" probably won't end anytime soon, argues the author of a National Review Op-Ed: "...If we seek to preserve our union, we’re left with a choice — try to dominate or learn to tolerate? The effort to dominate is futile, and it will leave us with a permanently embittered population that grows increasingly punitive with each transition of presidential power. There is hope, however, in the quest to tolerate. Our Constitution is built to allow our citizens to govern themselves while protecting individual liberty and providing for the common defense. It’s built to withstand profound differences without asking citizens or states to surrender their strongest convictions. We can either rediscover this federalism, or we may ultimately take a third path — we may choose to separate..."

Concussion Expert Says Extent of Brain Damage in Youth Football Players "Took My Breath Away". Here's a clip from ThinkProgress: "...While the impact of football on younger brains hasn’t been studied as comprehensively, scientists at the Mayo Clinic Brain Bank last year discovered evidence of CTE in 21 out of 66 brains they studied that belonged to males who played contact sports when they were young. Perhaps most alarmingly, they studied 198 brains in the bank that had zero documented history of participating in contact sports, and none of those brains showed signs of CTE. So while the research is still in the early stages, the connection between contact sports in youth and CTE later in life is pretty clear..."

Crispr May Cure All Genetic Disease - One Day. Here's an excerpt from "...When I think about where we are likely to see the biggest impacts in the shortest amount of time, I really think it’s going to be in agriculture,” she said. Plant breeders have always been geneticists at heart. And with the precision and ease of Crispr, identifying and separating out desirable traits has the potential to speed up new crop development by several orders of magnitude. Agro-giants DuPont and Monsanto have invested in Crispr licenses to accelerate their R&D efforts toward creating crops that can withstand changing climates and new disease and pest burdens. In test plots around the world gene edited crops are already growing—from longer-lasting potatoes and flood-resistant rice to drought-hardy corn and mildew-proof wheat, to name just a few..."

Livemint has a very good explainer on the principals behind Crispr.

Here's What Will Happen To America's Dying Department Stores. Call it Mall-apocalypse. Shopping habits and expectations are rapidly changing; many people now relying on online options, argues a story at Business Insider: "...And when department stores die, the mall itself sometimes follows, since the former pays a large percentage of the building's rent. In a new report, Credit Suisse analysts expect that 20% to 25% of malls — about 220 to 275 shopping centers — will shutter over the next five years, largely due to department store closures. Retail experts attribute the traditional mall's decline to changing habits of American consumers, who increasingly prefer to spend money online or on experiences rather than objects. Department stores at malls of the future have an opportunity to fulfill other community needs besides commerce, June Williamson , an architecture professor at the City College of New York and an author of "Retrofitting Suburbia," tells Business Insider. She says the US simply has built too many malls (and thus, department stores)..."

Photo credit: Rolling Acres Mall Nicholas Eckhart

Bear Breaks Into House, Plays the Piano but Not Very Well. I give him credit for trying. Here's an excerpt of a funny tale at The Washington Post: "Katie Hawley was not home when the black bear toured her house in Vail, Colo., but it had no problem getting in. She had accidentally left the kitchen window unlocked, and the bear slid it right open, as if it were familiar with the model. In the living room, as security camera footage would later reveal, the bear took in the views, loped around the coffee table and briefly stood on its hind legs to play the piano. The animal was less adept with that human-designed apparatus: The music was not very good. This was no Bear-thooven. Its “Clair de Lune” was more “Bear de Lune”: one atonal chord. Vail police, accustomed to mediating bear-human encounters in the mountain town, declared it “unbearable” and “grizzly...”

Video credit: "A Colorado woman called police when she came home to find her house trashed. Then they watched the surveillance tape." (The Washington Post)

TODAY: Some sun, stray storm possible. Winds: E 5-10. High: 84

MONDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy and muggy, isolated thunderstorm. Low: 70

TUESDAY: Steamy and hot, more numerous T-storms. Winds: SE 10-20. High: near 90

WEDNESDAY: T-storms likely, have a Plan B. Winds: SW 10-20. Wake-up: 72. High: 85

THURSDAY: Partly sunny, breathing easier. Lower humidity. Winds: W 10-15. Wake-up: 64. High: 84

FRIDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, comfortable. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 65. High: 83

SATURDAY: Peeks of sun, passing T-shower. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 63. High: near 80

SUNDAY: Intervals of sun, a bit cooler. Winds: NE 7-12. Wake-up: 60. High: 78

Climate Stories...

Trump Wages Battle Against Regulations, Not Climate Change. Some interesting spin from PBS NewsHour; here's the intro: "While President Donald Trump’s beliefs about global warming remain something of a mystery, his actions make one thing clear: He doesn’t consider it a problem for the federal government to solve. Trump’s recent decision to pull out of the Paris climate deal was just his latest rapid-fire move to weaken or dismantle federal initiatives to reduce carbon emissions, which scientists say are heating the planet to levels that could have disastrous consequences. Trump is waging war against efforts to curb U.S. dependence on fossil fuels. He’s done that through executive orders targeting climate change programs and regulations, massive proposed spending cuts and key appointments such as Scott Pruitt as chief of the Environmental Protection Agency..."

Photo credit: "U.S. President Donald Trump announces his decision that the United States will withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C., on June 1, 2017." Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters.

Iowa Teaching Standards Don't Say Humans Cause Climate Change, But... An article at The Des Moines Register explains: "At first, people who reject predominant scientific findings that humans are the main cause of climate change may be glad that new public-school science standards don’t require teachers to teach that. But if inquiry-based teaching guides under development in the Iowa K-12 Climate Science Education Initiative are used, students may reach that determination on their own, educators say. The Climate Science Education Initiative, a project of the University of Iowa’s Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research and College of Education, will help teachers apply in class Next Generation Science Standards that do not take the step of telling students what to think about climate change..."

Photo credit: "Iowa is seeing more floods as a result of climate change, yet has little idea of the price tag for needed protection." Aaron Young/The Register.

Once Again Climate Change Cited as Trigger for War. A recent report highlights 12 epicenters worldwide,  where a rapidly changing climate could contribute to destabilization and conflict. Scientific American has details: "...Many of the risk epicenters stem from resource shortages and dislocated populations, but the experts also consider an increased likelihood of nuclear war, more pandemics and tensions in the Arctic. Any one of those factors is enough to cause serious problems, but together they threaten to undermine the international order, said Francesco Femia, one of the authors of the report, titled “Epicenters of Climate and Security: The New Geostrategic Landscape of the Anthropocene.” “The humanitarian effects of [climate change] are massive,” he said. “But what we’re saying is that those humanitarian consequences are likely to spill over into broader security problems that speaks to the heart of how the world organizes itself...”

Photo credit: "The Mosul Dam in Iraq." Credit: United States Army Corps of Engineers Wikimedia Commons

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